The Nintendo Switch Reveal: My Vicarious Observations
On the 12th and 13th of January 2017, Nintendo finally pulled back the curtain on their new home console / portable gaming device, the Nintendo Switch, via a live presentation from Tokyo. In accordance with the ritualistic custom I have adopted for all prominent gaming events, I sat zealously perched in front of my computer screen, letting the eye-piercing glow of the LEDs wash over my countenance as the flood of exciting new information borne within their harsh luminescent stream suffused my brain. I now offer, for posterity's sake, this written testament to the spectacle mine ocular orifices have witnessed.
The first thing I quickly realized while watching Nintendo's Switch event was how much I do not miss the cringe-inducingly awkward pomp and pageantry of live on-stage press conferences. I was quite content when Nintendo seemed to have ditched this style of presentation in favor of the more intimate combination of pre-recorded "Nintendo Directs" and live-stream product demonstrations; the former present a formal, concise overview of everything the developers wish to convey about their upcoming products, free from the distractions of technical snafus and stilted teleprompter readings, while the latter still provide the exciting spontaneity of a live broadcast, only in a slightly more casual format, allowing the prospective consumers an in-depth look into the mechanics of each game. Despite my appreciation for the new format, however, Nintendo's decision to forgo live press conferences during the last few instances of the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo was not well-received by all fans. Some were of the opinion that, without a live audience's impromptu reaction to validate their own, the level of enthusiasm they had previously derived from the company's new game announcements was just not the same; but is that not just a bit of psychological legerdemain to which we are unwittingly submitting, tantamount to requiring a laugh track to glean the utmost enjoyment out of our television comedies?
I don't know if Nintendo's return to the live presentation format for the Switch's reveal was a direct response to these disappointed fans, or if the company just felt something with a bit more pomp and flash was appropriate to underscore the hype of a new console's unveiling, but it did nothing for me save to reconfirm my distaste for such fanfare. Game developers, producers, and corporate marketing folk are not seasoned performers, and trucking them out onto a stage to promote their company's products is a recipe for awkwardness. When you are a primarily Japanese game developer broadcasting live from Tokyo, there is also the added complexity of providing your North American audience a real-time English translation. On more than one occasion during Thursday night's broadcast, the interpreters, whether in an effort to match the timing of the speaker or chase after an unexpected tangent from the written transcript, seemed to stammer nervously or fade into awkward, lengthy silence. A couple times I could almost imagine the beleaguered individual behind the scenes verging on the precipice of a complete nervous breakdown, emitting an audible sigh of exasperation before abruptly slamming down the microphone in resignation and storming away. Yes, I'm fairly sure Goichi "Suda51" Suda was going wildly off-script during his segment of the presentation, and so I do not blame the translator for his apparent struggle to keep pace, but the awkwardness was palpable from the audience's perspective—a distraction that would not have been an issue had everything been professionally edited into a pre-recorded Direct. Really, why we insist on live presentations anymore is beyond my understanding. Could it be that we're just a bunch of sadistic bastards, who derive amusement from watching other people humiliate themselves in circumstances contrived to be completely contradictory to their natural predilections? Nah. If that were the case, reality TV would be so much more popu… Oh! Well then, mystery solved! That is exactly the reason.
"After a full console generation in which Nintendo had seemed to abandon the concept altogether, I for one am stoked to see that a split controller, allowing for independent gyroscopic control in either hand, is making a return as an integral feature of their system's design."
The general consensus amongst the audience of "core" gamers on the Internet appears to be that Nintendo's new console, boasting an MSRP of $299.99, is glaringly overpriced for the technological prowess it represents. But I'm not so sure that is an entirely fair assessment. When measuring the value proposition of any new piece of hardware, people always seem to place the greatest emphasis on the power of the central and graphical processing units, the amount of storage space allotted for installs and downloads, the maximum displayable resolution, and all the other components that conform to a readily quantifiable metric. Everyone always neglects to consider all the fancy (and I'm sure not particularly cheap) tech that also goes into the controls—touchscreens, gyroscopes and accelerometers for motion control, rumble for tactile feedback, etc.
I get it: the market has spoken, and the verdict has condemned these sorts of controller innovations as nothing more than goofy gimmicks. Admittedly, they do not represent as much of an objective improvement over their predecessors (more of a lateral alternative) compared to the natural evolution apparent in faster processing chips and crisper screen resolutions, and so it seems more of a glaring oversight when the latter forms of technology are left to languish behind the ever advancing industry standard. The majority of consumers are more willing to pay for refinements in horsepower, higher resolutions, and smoother frame rates, while things like HD Rumble, touchscreens, et al are perceived as adding only very limited value to offset their inflation of the system's manufacturing cost. Poor sales of the Wii U clearly show that Nintendo is not succeeding marching to the beat of their own weird-ass drum. Everyone, outside of the company's own development studios and "blindly devoted Nintendo apologists" such as myself, is refusing to buy what the House of Mario is so hellbent on peddling, and if we want the beloved game publisher to remain a noteworthy presence in the industry and continue producing the software and franchises we so dearly adore, then they will need to abandon their own creative interests to appease the demands of the mainstream. But when every competitor in the market decides to fawn at the feet of the majority, everything becomes homogenized, and it just gets boring. Chasing after the relentless march of technological progress is already the obsessive focus of every other major manufacturer out there, so why can't someone occasionally opt to devote their resources to other potential innovations, which might improve our gaming experiences in other ways?
I mean, come on: people are expressing more passionate ire for the apparent lack of analog functionality in the Joy-Cons' L and R triggers than enthusiasm for the arguably more significant return of motion controls. After a full console generation in which Nintendo had seemed to abandon the concept altogether, I for one am stoked to see that a split controller, allowing for independent gyroscopic control in either hand, is making a return as an integral feature of their system's design. During the Wii U era, interacting with games through intuitive and independent hand movements was still technically an option due to the system's backwards-compatibility with the old Wii remotes, but since these controllers were not guaranteed to be a part of every Wii U owner's arsenal of gaming devices, they were seldom implemented outside of a few titles that were either ports of old games (Wii Sports Club) or holdovers from earlier projects begun near the end of the Wii's life cycle (Pikmin 3). It felt like Nintendo had forsaken the concept when it ought to have been providing us the next evolution thereof.
I know I am probably in the minority amongst my fellow gaming enthusiasts when I profess my appreciation for the Wii's disparagingly dubbed "waggle" controls. Full hand gestures may not always be as immediately responsive as a quick flick of the joystick or tap of the A button, and in games that feature more intense, fast-paced action, they may not be the most ideal choice upon which to base the control scheme. But if the game is properly designed around them, they can still provide a unique and highly enjoyable experience. I loved The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword and all the various motion-based methods for manipulating Link's arsenal of items; flicking the nunchuk upward to block an enemy's attack with your shield, or using an underhanded gesture to roll your bombs across the ground like bowling balls, felt both instantly intuitive and immensely satisfying. Whenever I played the Wii's version of the classic arcade boxing title Punch-Out!!, I'm sure I looked like an idiot miming forward jabs with my Wii remote and nunchuk to throw punches, but I always considered it a far more exhilarating workout than simply mapping the same actions to the 1 and 2 buttons. And I am still of the adamant belief that gyroscopic aiming is the best analog to mouse-like controls in 3D space that we have thus far achieved, and it should be implemented in all first- and third-person shooters going forward.
I suppose one potential compromise between the debatable value of these controller innovations and a more appealing price point would be to make the former features optional. Let there be a Switch SKU that excludes the Joy-Con attachments, the internal gyroscopes, the HD Rumble… heck! even the whole portable unit that contains the battery and touchscreen—just house the core processing chips in a stationary plastic box that connects to the user's TV, and sell it along with a Pro Controller for $199.99. Then, people who want a system with all the fancy extra tech and portability can pay for the deluxe version of the hardware, and those who want a more traditional home console can easily settle for the basic model. But ignoring the unwanted confusion that could potentially result from multiple functionally disparate SKUs of the same product, enabling such a clear divide amongst the system's users might prove problematic to game developers as well. The reason I believe Nintendo prefers to include these control options as standard within the base unit, rather than as optional accessories, is to ensure that no matter what control scheme a developer decides to go with, they won't need to worry about failing to capitalize on the full potential of their market, as 100% of the system's userbase will be able to experience their product without being hindered by the need to acquire additional items. I suppose one could argue that if 100% of the userbase is really just a handful of nerds like myself, because nobody else decided that the feature-bloated system was worth the expense, then the end result on the developer's pocketbook will be the same. But whereas some might accuse Nintendo of uncharitably restricting consumer options, I believe the intent is actually to increase the number of possibilities available to game developers: to remove the obstacles that might discourage them from coming up with ideas for some of the more "out there" input methods, and prevent financial motivations from adversely influencing creative inspiration.
I really like how the Switch feels like a consolidation of every innovation Nintendo has offered us throughout the years—from traditional buttons to touchscreens to infrared cameras and motion control—along with a few neat new tricks thrown in for good measure, like HD Rumble. I know, I usually disable the vibration function of my controllers nowadays as well, but that's only because Nintendo first introduced the Rumble Pak nearly 20 years ago, and we are somehow still dealing with the same simplistic motors that respond in the same cacophonously superficial fashion to every knock and explosion we encounter in a game. Now, however, with the intriguing promise of being able to emulate complex tangible sensations that differ noticeably depending on the circumstance—a hard, clunky feeling when slicing your sword through a giant rock monster, for instance, or a softer, fluid sensation when vanquishing a gelatinous slime—HD Rumble could finally upgrade tactile cues to the same gameplay-influencing level of importance as aural and visual stimuli.
The sheer variety and versatility of the Switch's built-in control features should allow game designers more freedom when deciding the kind of interaction between the player and game that suits their idea best, which should theoretically result in a more interesting and varied assortment of games for us gamers to enjoy. I'm looking forward to unpacking the system's veritable toy chest of technological wonders when I finally get my hands on the device later this year.
Though I may not always share other people's frustration toward Nintendo's peculiar practices, I do not entirely lack the capacity to empathize with them. When you have a certain notion in mind of the kinds of entertaining experiences you believe your favorite video game developer could easily provide, and yet they seem almost perversely insistent on ignoring your appeals in favor of pursuing their own oddball creative vision, I'm sure it can be a vexing task to reconcile such a vast difference of opinion. I can sympathize with the grievances expressed by many Nintendo fans, especially when I am right there with them in regards to the company's nebulous and convoluted plan for the Switch's online functionality.
"You could argue that this is all technically an improvement over Nintendo's current solution for online party chat, which is nonexistent, but if it is meant to be part of the justification for transitioning from a free service to a subscription-based one, and yet people like me who don't own a separate smart device will be denied a vital part of said paid service, I don't see it as a particularly convenient or fair solution."
The details thus far given for the new console's online service are vague at best. We know that starting this fall (following an initial free trial period that I assume will comprise numerous piecemeal rollouts of the service's full feature-set), we will have to pay to play our Switch games online, which is a dramatic deviation from the completely free online play we have thus far experienced on Nintendo's systems (that is, when online play has been implemented at all, as it has only traditionally been a feature in a sparse smattering of the publisher's most prominent titles). I'm not fundamentally opposed to the idea of a paid subscription for online play. Obviously, I would prefer it to be free, but I understand that there is probably a considerable cost to the developer in maintaining their online infrastructure, and a paid subscription might help them improve the experience for the user. But Nintendo is still keeping mum on how improved the end result will be, not to mention how much the subscription will cost. Will I experience fewer disconnects when playing Mario Kart 8 Deluxe or Splatoon 2 than I did with the originals on Wii U, or fewer issues with others disconnecting and leaving me stranded on a numerically disadvantaged team? Will we start to see significantly more of Nintendo's games offering online multiplayer as a fixed standard—games like Mario Party, for instance, which, despite having a strong multiplayer focus that would seem to have made it an ideal candidate for the inclusion of an online mode, has remained an exclusively local multiplayer experience? The only precedents we have from which to extrapolate the as-yet-undetermined price for the service are Sony's and Microsoft's similar subscription-based models, but will Nintendo charge the same $60 annually as their competitors, or might they come in at a slightly more budget-friendly $15-30 range, softening the blow somewhat of what many might have cause to anticipate, going off the evidence of Nintendo's current online presence, to be a slightly less feature-rich service? Telling us that we're going to have to pay for something, but then providing no details on the benefits we will receive in return, just seems like an odd marketing strategy, and Nintendo should have known it would spark a negative reaction from their fans.
The few details they did provide in advance are vague and confusing as well, and they serve little purpose but to accentuate our frustration with the whole idea even further. It's fantastic to see Nintendo finally committing to the promise of a dedicated online voice chat system, as it will enable players to communicate more easily with their distant friends, but what's this thing about it being done through a separate smartphone app instead of natively through the system? I'm one of those few weirdos who doesn't yet own a smart device, so I may be biased against this idea, but even if I did have one, can't we already use our phones to chat with other people while we play games on another device? Is this not what a phone call is? Why would we need a special app for this functionality? And the point of dedicated gaming chat is that you can have game audio and chat audio both running through the same headset, so that one does not distract from the other, and you don't have sounds from open speakers being picked up by the microphone and causing obnoxious feedback in your fellow players' ears. I suppose this is still possible using a bluetooth headset connected to the phone, which I assume will somehow synchronize with the Switch to ensure both lobby chat and game audio pass through the same set of speakers, but why not just cut out the middleman and have the game and chat features operating natively and simultaneously on the Switch itself? You could argue that this is all technically an improvement over Nintendo's current solution for online party chat, which is nonexistent, but if it is meant to be part of the justification for transitioning from a free service to a subscription-based one, and yet people like me who don't own a separate smart device will be denied a vital part of said paid service, I don't see it as a particularly convenient or fair solution.
Everything just seems so unnecessarily convoluted, and the non-details Nintendo has thus far offered about how all of it will work have just left everyone confused and irritated. I will still be patient and wait for the specifics on cost and features before I make any judgment of the Switch's forthcoming online service, but there appears to have been zero foresight in Nintendo's marketing strategy for this service's reveal. It makes you wonder, if they weren't prepared to go into specifics, why Nintendo decided to mention anything at all.
But let's get down to inarguably the most important feature of Nintendo's upcoming system—its first-year lineup of games. Please be aware that I did not attend any event where these games were being played, and I have had no personal hands-on time with any of them. All of my impressions were gleaned secondhand off the same videos and articles you have probably already seen and read online. The following paragraphs, therefore, are the written ramblings of a flagrant egotist using a (nominally) public medium to organize his own thoughts, and they are not meant to provide any service to other gamers looking for an informed opinion on what their next gaming purchase should be.
I've been on a media blackout of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild ever since I saw it showcased at last year's E3, because it looks like the sort of game that encourages unfettered exploration, and it would be completely contradictory to the spirit of the game to let any potential spoilers preempt my personal discovery of its numerous secrets. But what scant information I have allowed myself to glean from previews has me super excited to play the finished product come March 3rd. When I first heard that Nintendo was planning to add an "open world" element to Zelda, I was skeptical, as I find many games that boast that ubiquitous attributive only offer the promise of a vast virtual landscape to sate the player's wanderlust, while in practice their gameplay consists of navigating a menu of quick travel locations and obsessively checking every box on a laundry list of banal and repetitive quests. Link's latest adventure may ultimately prove no different—I won't know till I actually get a chance to play the finished product. But the moment Link emerged from his subterranean stasis at the opening of the 2016 E3 demo, and the screen panned out to reveal the title graphic fading in over a vast uncharted wilderness, it just felt like the game was unabashedly declaring to the player, "Here you are! Go forth and explore." It evoked the selfsame awe that I felt as a kid when I first booted up the original Legend of Zelda. That game's opening scenario almost felt like a direct inverse to the scene in Breath of the Wild, with Link beginning in the middle of an open field and a mysterious (and strangely rectangular) cavern beckoning from the wayside; but both games succeed at inspiring an immediate sense of exploratory freedom, encouraging the player to wander off in any direction and begin his expedition into the world's undisclosed bounties. It's not necessarily a reason to rush out day one and nab yourself a Nintendo Switch, since a Wii U version of the game is also releasing on the same date, and all reports from Nintendo would indicate that the two versions will play more or less identically. But if you are buying a Switch, it's a pretty safe bet that a copy of Breath of the Wild will be accompanying your purchase.
Super Mario Odyssey (scheduled for a Holiday 2017 release) looks to be a true successor to Super Mario 64, giving fans of that game the return to free-roaming sandbox platforming that they've been craving since the close of the 64-bit era. Though I have immensely enjoyed the tighter platforming challenges of the more recent Galaxy and 3D World games, it is never a bad idea to avoid creative stagnation in an established series by varying the core mechanics and play-styles from one entry to the next. They did it with Super Mario Bros. 2 on the NES, and with Super Mario World 2 on the SNES, and I think the timing is right (and Nintendo's new console aptly named) for Mario to switch things up yet again. (I promise: that is the first and last time I will stoop to acknowledge the blatant ploy from Nintendo's marketing team for what will undoubtedly become a wearisomely overused catchphrase.)
1-2-Switch is a collection of mini-games, the majority of which involve two players facing off in some sort of comically themed challenge, like trying to extract the most bottles of milk from a virtual bovine's bloated udder, or using the Switch's HD Rumble to guess how many simulated marbles are rolling around in a simulated marble box. It's not the sort of game that my hardcore gamer persona would ever dare admit obliging with even a passing shade of morbid curiosity, though truthfully I can see it being fun to mess around with for a few short minutes when I'm bored and don't have the energy to delve into something a bit meatier. It's the kind of light party game / tech demo that is always good for a quick chuckle, but the asking price of $50 seems a bit steep for the amount of content thus far shown. I can only see that price being fully justified in one of three ways: There could actually be considerably more layers of depth to each mini-game (in the form of multiple stages of difficulty, perhaps) that have yet to be made apparent in the one-and-done sorts of challenges they have thus far demoed. There might be multiple modes or meta-games (something like the Mario Party board games, or Warioware's randomized rapid-fire concatenation) that tie all the short parlor activities together into a more substantial, fulfilling whole—something that doesn't just direct the players to a perfunctory game-selection menu and call it a day. Or perhaps the developers have gone for sheer overwhelming quantity and crammed somewhere between 50 to 100 of these goofy little challenges onto a single cart. I kinda feel like there will be no greater than 30 of them, which isn't awful, but if that's the case, it would be a much easier proposition to the average consumer as a $20-30 budget title.
"ARMS... seems like it could be their next Splatoon, doing for the 3D arena fighting genre what that game did for competitive online shooters—bringing an accessibility and inviting colorful aesthetic to what is traditionally an intimidatingly intense and intricate style of game."
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is a somewhat enhanced port of the series' previous incarnation on the Wii U. I'm a little disappointed that it seems to lack the extra Grand Prix courses that were among the erstwhile rumored list of enhancements, but the return of a more traditional Battle Mode with dedicated arenas (even if such a feature probably should have been included in the Wii U version to begin with) may be more than enough to get me to double dip on what was already, arguably, the best installment in the series since the SNES original.
Probably, the biggest highlight for me during Nintendo's live-stream was the handful of stages the Treehouse staff demoed from Snipperclips, a delightful two-player cooperative puzzle game starring a pair of elongate shape-persons with stick-figure feet and drawn-on faces. As I watched the presenters demoing the game live, I could practically feel my ever-expanding smile threatening to sever my lower jaw from the rest of my face, which I realize now would have been quite fitting, since the game's primary mechanic involves cutting various shapes out of the bodies of its two main protagonists. Snip and Clip are their names, and they are both shaped identically—basically rectangles save for a single semicircular edge. Their bodies can be rotated a full 360 degrees, and when they overlap one another, each player can press a button to snip out the overlapping area from the other player's body, essentially creating any shape they feel is necessary to solve the current stage's conundrum. One stage, for instance, prominently features a basketball and a basketball net, so the natural inference is that the former needs to pass through the latter in order to complete the stage. In one possible solution, one of the players could use the semicircular edge of her body to scoop out a like-shaped concavity from her companion, which the latter could then use as a bowl in which to transport the basketball to its destination. Having recently had a fantastic time playing Overcooked with friends and family over the holiday break, I think Snipperclips has the potential to be my next fix for some riotous cooperative fun.
Another new intellectual property that Nintendo is introducing on the Switch is ARMS, and from all the impressions I have read thus far, it seems like it could be their next Splatoon, doing for the 3D arena fighting genre what that game did for competitive online shooters—bringing an accessibility and inviting colorful aesthetic to what is traditionally an intimidatingly intense and intricate style of game. ARMS boasts an immediately appealing art direction, where everyone is bopping around in big, bulky, buoyant physiques, almost like inverse bobbleheads, and the eponymous segments of their anatomy are composed of various extensible materials—springs, unspooling coils of ribbon, swaddles of gauze, etc. The Switch's two detachable Joy-Con controllers seem to fulfill the promise first hinted at by the original Wii's remote + nunchuk combination—full Wii MotionPlus levels of one-to-one accuracy operating independently in either hand—and ARMS takes full advantage of this capability to give its players accessible, yet sufficiently nuanced control over their avatars' springy limbs (though, it should be of note to the fighting game purists out there: the game can purportedly be played with traditional joysticks and face buttons as well). A forward jab of the left or right Joy-Con sends the player's respective arm springing forward in a straight line towards his opponent; a subtle rotational twist after a punch is launched adds extra spin to its trajectory, allowing for some sneaky sideways swipes and last-minute adjustments to compensate for an opponent's dodge; and thrusting both Joy-Cons forward simultaneously initiates a grapple maneuver. There's a solid rock-paper-scissors structure underlying all the gameplay's more flashy mechanics, where punches negate grabs, grabs negate guards, and guards negate punches. I'm not usually a fan of fighting games, just like I wasn't a particular fan of online competitive shooters before the arrival of Splatoon. I can't really say that my opinion on the latter genre did a complete 180 upon the introduction of Nintendo's beloved new ink-splattering IP—I enjoyed the game well enough, but intense online competition with strangers will never be as appealing to me as lighthearted local cooperative play with friends—so I'm not sure if ARMS will completely revolutionize my opinion of the arena fighter. But it has my attention for now.
Speaking of Splatoon, a full-fledged sequel is apparently on its way to the Switch this summer. It appears to add new weapons, battle arenas, and cosmetic gear to the original game's established formula, and not a whole lot else. That is probably technically enough to justify labeling this a sequel, but it doesn't really blow me away. Hopefully there are some extra modes that Nintendo hasn't yet revealed, as they've just shown off the standard 8-player Turf Wars thus far. Since the small single-player adventure from the original was a highlight for me, I would really like confirmation that Splatoon 2 has expanded upon the idea with an all-new and slightly more substantial campaign—preferably with additional boss fights and platforming stages, as it was in these areas where I felt the development team's full creativity was most prominently displayed. My personal wish—fingers crossed—is that they include the option for local and online cooperative play.
The absence of any information on Splatoon 2's single-player components highlights one of my main grievances with the reveal of the Switch's first-year library: we are now less than two months away from the system's launch in early March, and we are being shown only a single game mode of Splatoon, or barely half-a-dozen isolated mini-games from 1-2-Switch, or a tiny sampling of what we would like to assume (but would be fools to take for granted) will be a broader selection of playable characters in ARMS. I know not all of these titles are officially launch games that will appear alongside the console on March 3rd—many of them are listed with nebulous seasonal estimates like "Spring" and "Summer"—but somehow it still feels like we should have a more comprehensive understanding of the full contents of these games by now. And that's another problem I have: aside from Zelda, 1-2-Switch, and a handful of third-party titles scheduled for release on launch day, we don't even have hard release dates for the majority of games shown. There are several that are even listed as releasing in March, the same month as the system's launch—can Nintendo really still be uncertain as to when exactly in March? Shouldn't these be guaranteed launch titles as well? Or if they really needed two or three extra weeks to ferment, why not have pushed the Switch's official launch date back to March 31st? No one would have faulted Nintendo for it. Well, okay, someone inevitably would have, because that's what people do. But when it was first revealed (I believe some time early last year) that the system would arrive in March 2017, the pessimistic proclivity inherent to all gamers had already suspected a mid-to-late-month release anyway. I can only assume a weekly trickle of game releases following the system's original launch is part of Nintendo's marketing strategy: they want to ensure that there is always a new Switch game popping up on store shelves each week, even if it is nothing but a slapdash port of the most low-key third-party title, so that word of the system and its games remains a consistent presence in the gaming public's collective subconscious.
Speaking of third-party offerings… Unfortunately, the big-budget western development studios seem barely on board with the Switch, offering only vague promises of maybe one or two ports of games that probably will look and play better on other platforms, the majority of which (including Bethesda's Skyrim and another entry in EA's annual FIFA franchise) won't be releasing until the latter half of the year. Such is the unfortunate drawback to a home console that boasts less than state-of-the-art power specifications: lavishly produced and graphically intensive games are the bread and butter of major third-party development studios, and if they would need to make extensive downgrades to come in under the ceiling defined by the Switch's limited capabilities, right away one of the primary selling points of their products is become compromised. Their less than enthusiastic support for the Switch was to be expected, but it will still be dissatisfying to fans of those games who had been desperately clinging to the horribly misguided hope of seeing them appear on a Nintendo system.
"...Japanese third parties and independent studios... have continued to maintain a respectable presence on the 3DS, and have even carved out a sizeable niche on Sony's Vita, and if the portable nature of the Switch is meant to be taken as any indication that Nintendo may be phasing out their old handheld line and folding all development into their new console, it would be encouraging to know that the established third-party support on those obsolescent platforms will follow."
Personally, I'm more interested in finding out what Japanese third parties and independent studios will choose to create titles for the Switch. These are the developers that have continued to maintain a respectable presence on the 3DS, and have even carved out a sizeable niche on Sony's Vita, and if the portable nature of the Switch is meant to be taken as any indication that Nintendo may be phasing out their old handheld line and folding all development into their new console, it would be encouraging to know that the established third-party support on those obsolescent platforms will follow. The first-year library for the Switch already boasts a few promising indications that this will be the case. I kinda want the new Bomberman—obscurely entitled Super Bomberman R—even if it doesn't really look that much different from the old Bomberman, just because it's been ages since I played a Bomberman game, and I miss Hudsonsoft and their rich library of fantastic games that nearly single-handedly sustained the Turbo-Grafx 16. I have yet to play I Am Setsuna and The Binding of Isaac, but I hear the former bears more than a passing similarity to the classic Square-Enix RPG Chrono Trigger, and the latter is a top-down rogue-like shooter that predates one of my favorite games in the same genre from last year, Enter the Gungeon; so, even though I know they are merely ports of games that already exist on current platforms, their Switch debuts may be the right time to indulge my long-deferred curiosity. Sega's Puyo Puyo Tetris, which combines the distinct tile-matching mechanics of its two namesakes in various frenetic single- and multiplayer mash-ups, is a likely purchase for a puzzle fan such as myself. Meanwhile, fans of JRPGs should be intrigued by the announcement of a new game from the makers of Bravely Default, tentatively branded with the outlandish moniker Project Octopath Traveler (though based off the developer's previous naming conventions, I wouldn't be surprised if that remains the official title).
Honestly, though, I was hoping to see more of a gushing font of these kinds of games when Nintendo finally opened the floodgates on their software lineup. There are still some smaller projects that I know are supposed to be in the works for the Switch but weren't highlighted during the presentation—titles like Stardew Valley, Yooka-Laylee, the new Monster World / Wonder Boy game, another installment in Image & Form's Steamworld series, etc. So, I'm hoping more games get revealed shortly, as I truly believe the efforts of many indie developers harmonize well with the gaming proclivities of most Nintendo fans (the impermeable logic behind such a bold claim being that they coincide with my tastes, and I'm a Nintendo fan), and they would find on the Switch a userbase staunchly devoted to their products.
Nintendo's January unveiling of the Switch may not necessarily have persuaded me to purchase a copy of their upcoming system, but that's only because I have been a devoted fan of their products since childhood, and my support was always a given. I can at least say that they did not deter me from my predetermined resolve, even despite the best efforts waged by their confusing plans for online functionality and their nebulous timetable for "launch window" software. I am, however, tormented by the ceaseless trepidation that they may have deterred everyone else, and the Switch will underperform in sales the same way the Wii U did, which won't change the fact that I own a system full of fantastic first-party software that I absolutely adore, but the indifference of the rest of the world will strike a devastating blow to Nintendo's finances, inevitably forcing the company to go third-party and become a shell of its former self, the same way Sega did after suffering two consecutive failures in their Saturn and Dreamcast home consoles, which will significantly cripple both the quality and quantity of their annual software output, leaving a giant gaping void in the hobby that I have for countless years used to define the reason for my existence. But that's really just the product of my own narcissistic neuroses, with which I alone must contend, and the rest of the world need not concern themselves with how much weight their gaming-related purchases indirectly contribute to the metaphorical millstone precariously looming over my head. Kind of similar, I'm sure, to how we need not blame ourselves for the misery of the overworked overseas laborers that companies employ to cut the manufacturing cost of all these wonderful techy toys, whose prices still somehow fail to elude our vociferous remonstration.